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Volume 60 / Humanities


19th and 20th Centuries: Peru

STEVEN J. HIRSCH, Associate Professor of History, University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg

THE HISTORIOGRAPHY ON REPUBLICAN PERU for this reporting period is characterized by an increasing methodological sophistication and an expanding topical reach. The declining influence of conventional structural and class paradigms, as noted by reviewers Nils Jacobsen and Daniel Masterson in HLAS 56 and 58 respectively, has had a salutary effect on the scholarly literature. Deterministic and unproblematic renderings of social, economic, and political history have yielded to a more complicated and profound understanding. Historical contingency has supplanted historical inevitability. This shift in historical perspective, as Jacobsen observed in HLAS 56, is mainly attributable to the growing influence of the new political/cultural history with its emphasis on agency, identity construction, discursive practices, and the processes of representation and meaning formation. Combining innovative approaches drawn from discourse and gender analyses, subaltern and cultural studies, and the literature on hegemony, this new fusion of political and cultural history continues to inspire investigations into neglected fields of inquiry in Peruvian history. The politics of state formation; the development of civil society; and the constructions of class, race, ethnicity, gender, and popular culture are among the understudied topics currently receiving scholarly attention.

Although the literature on women and gender in republican Peru lags behind other Latin American historiographies, significant advances are being made. The volume edited by Zegarra and published by the research center CENDOC-MUJER provides valuable essays on several important 19th century topics: the development of liberal legal codes and women's civil rights, women's cultural representations, and disease and mortality rates for men and women (item #bi2001004992#). The collection includes an outstanding essay by Mannarelli that links socioeconomic changes in early 20th century Lima to new public definitions of masculinity and femininity as well as discourses on female sexuality. Mannarelli amplifies her analysis of gender identities and roles in a seminal study that scrutinizes the influences of public health authorities, the medical profession, and feminist discourse in Lima between 1900–30 (item #bi2001004991#). This study demonstrates the value of examining the interconnections between gendered private and public discourses and the formation of gender regimes. More multilevel analyses that historicize gender arrangements in terms of larger socioeconomic processes and state policies are needed for both the 19th and 20th centuries. In addition, the construction of human sexuality during the republican period, which remains largely unexamined, warrants further investigation.

Another overlooked subject area that is beginning to garner scholarly attention is the social history of disease. In the first major historical study of epidemics in 20th-century Peru, Cueto significantly advances our knowledge of popular perceptions of disease and disease control policies (item #bi2001004964#). He persuasively argues that authoritarian public health campaigns strengthened state power and often ignored or trampled on the sensibilities of ethnic and underclass groups most affected by disease. Cueto's study is particularly noteworthy due to its multidimensional approach. By integrating social history, public policy, and cultural processes, with an analysis of disease characteristics, he provides a paradigm for future studies.

Sophisticated works on urban history continue to appear. Joffré presents new methods of conceptualizing urban change in his award-winning study of Lima in the second half of the 19th century (item #bi2001004966#). Utilizing Angel Rama's notion of the city as text and the category of space, Joffré sheds light on how government authorities and the urban elite appropriated and redefined Lima's public space following the War of the Pacific. His analysis significantly adds to our understanding of how elite conceptions of modernity and uses of public space shaped municipal reforms aimed at restricting the movements of the urban poor. Lima's macro and micro public spaces (cafes, salons, streets, barrios) are the focus of Aguila Peralta's study of informal political relations during "la república de notables" (1895–1919) (item #bi2002003385#). Aguila Peralta elucidates the quotidian ritualization of paternalism and clientelism. However, her conclusion that reciprocal and vertical relations pervaded Lima society and muted counter-hegemonic ideas and practices ignores the well-documented sociocultural and political resistance of urban workers for this period.

The literature on 19th century Peruvian social and political history, as Masterson observed in HLAS 58, continues to expand and mature. Nevertheless, much work still remains to be done on nation-building processes associated with the formation of civil society and the constitution of a political citizenry. During this biennium, two exemplary articles grapple with these themes. Forment's excellent study of elite civic associations and elite modes of sociability in Lima, Cuzco, and Arequipa (1845–75), is both methodologically sophisticated and revisionist (item #bi2002003390#). Drawing on Habermasian and Foucauldian concepts of civic associations and democracy, he argues that Peru's social and cultural elite developed a "democratic culture" predicated on "civic Catholicism," which stressed the need for an orderly, moral, and independent civil society. This vision of public life, he concludes, served as a counterpoint to the liberal and authoritarian visions emanating from the state and the market. Mücke's important article offers a rare analysis of the totality of the electoral process (campaigns, electoral communications and mobilizations, voting, legal verification of results) during the protracted presidential election of 1871–72 (item #bi2002001575#). In a significant reinterpretation of 19th-century electoral history, he suggests that electoral campaigns contributed to the development of a national identity and consciousness. Mücke's work underscores the need for additional studies on 19th–20th century Peruvian electoral history.

Of the few works on the historical construction of ethnic, racial, and national identities to appear during this biennium, Méndez-Gastelumendi's study stands out for its impressive primary documentation and probing analysis (item #bi2002003399#). Her article explores the ways in which 19th-century national politics contributed to the invention and appropriation of politically defined ethnic identities. In particular, she shows how indigenous peasants in Huanta province, Ayacucho assumed an Iquichano ethnic identity, originally derived from Spanish monarchist rebellions (1826–28), in order to leverage post-1830 national caudillos for assistance. Further research on identity construction and peasant politics during the republican period is clearly needed.

Regional history continues to attract scholarly attention. In addition to Ayacucho, valuable publications on Cerro de Pasco, Arequipa, Cuzco, and Amazonas were reviewed for this HLAS volume. Among these works, the study by anthropologist Nugent on the nature of hegemony and subaltern agency in the Chachapoyas region (1885–1930) is particularly noteworthy (item #bi2002003393#). Thoroughly researched, Nugent's book analyzes the formation and competition between an aristocratic and a subaltern political culture on the geographic periphery of the central state. By illustrating the ways that subaltern groups appropriated state discourses on nationhood, popular sovereignty, and modernity to advance their own political liberation, this regional study bolsters the case for state-making "from below."

Following a longstanding trend, relatively little scholarly work on either economic or business history appeared during this reporting period. However, the magisterial, synthetic essay on Peruvian business history by Miller deserves mention (item #bi2002003404#). Highly informative, Miller's essay discusses the availability of primary sources and provides a trenchant analysis of the thematic and regional imbalances in the extant literature. He strongly suggests that future analyses focus on provincial, medium-sized firms oriented toward the internal market. This essay is invaluable for researchers of economic and business history during the republican era.

Urban labor history continues to receive scant attention from scholars. No major publications on unions, labor relations, or working-class politics were reviewed with the single exception of the work by sociologist Parodi, which was originally published in Spanish in 1986. Parodi's case study of metallurgical union workers in Callao during the 1970s and early 1980s underscores the protean character of working-class identity and political behavior (item #bi2002003396#). In stark contrast to the majority of Peruvian labor historiography, Parodi depicts workers with multiple and overlapping identities (ethnic, generational, regional, family, union, political). That he finds putative leftist workers to be less ideologically driven and more concerned with self-improvement a uniquely 1980s phenomenon underscores the need for further research on 20th-century labor history.

In HLAS 56, Jacobsen astutely noted that photographs and paintings are becoming increasingly important sources for understanding Peruvian history. Two collections of rare archival photos reviewed for this volume reaffirm the validity of this observation. Herrera Cornejo's corpus of photos taken by Courret and Dubreuil families' studio in Lima (1863–1934) offers revealing portraits of urban social types and captures urban life and material culture (item #bi2001004986#). The social history of Peru's Chinese immigrants and their descendants is portrayed in a beautiful photo album assembled by Peruvian historian Derpich. This commemorative edition, published by Peru's Congreso Nacional, highlights the Chinese community's economic and cultural contributions to the nation over a 150-year period (item #bi2001004983#).

Immigration studies and works on Peru's ethnic minorities are emerging in increasing numbers. Much of this historical scholarship focuses on previously understudied groups (Eastern Europeans, Jews, Africans). To a large extent the Editorial Fund of Peru's Congreso Nacional is responsible for these publications. In addition, the Fund has promoted a series on the history of mass cultural production and consumption, with individual studies on the Peruvian theater, television industry, and press. These works tend to be undertheorized and reflect the fledgling state of the field.

With the resolution of Peru's boundary disputes with Ecuador and Chile, it is likely that the spate of monographs on diplomatic history will abate. Perhaps now professional and amateur historians can turn their attention to overlooked areas. There remains an urgent need for historical studies on religion, popular culture, crime, and the environment for the republican period. The recent opening of the Soviet archives may allow for new perspectives on the history of the Peruvian left. Given the recent phoenix-like resurgence of the APRA, it may be a propitious moment to research the understudied post-World War II party history.

Lastly, I would be remiss if I failed to mention the premature death of Pedro Planas, a dedicated Peruvian scholar and prolific writer on a broad range of historical topics. His study on decentralization reviewed in this volume reflects the passion he devoted to his subjects and his commitment to social, economic, and political justice in Peru (item #bi2001004980#).

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